He shouted “Seoul” with his arms wide open as soon as he stepped on stage, almost looking like Moses who led the Israelites across the miraculously-parted Red Sea. His height of 195 centimeters also made him look like a foreign god. In “Slow Life Slow Live 2018” held Sunday in Seoul, the audience looked at him playing and singing songs in complete awe.
Moses Sumney, an up-and-coming American singer-songwriter who made his first visit to Korea for Sunday’s performance, sat down for an interview with the Dong-A Ilbo. Sumney debuted with his first album “Aromanticism” last year, which immediately got him rave reviews. His delicate, but elegant falsetto that spans a wide range of register feels almost surreal. With dreamlike chords and original melodies, Sumney has presented new musical beauty that combines R&B, folk, and jazz.
“When I was a teenager, I bought a 60-dollar acoustic guitar and taught myself music. I just played as I heard and followed my heart, and maybe that’s how my music got originality.”
Sumney is also a rising fashion icon. Invited to Paris Fashion Week last week, he wrote the music for Louis Vuitton show. Sumney’s music videos and album covers show the essence of minimalist fashion. Meanwhile, in a video that he co-directed and acted, Sumney falls in love with a mermaid or a horse, which some would say is quite odd. “I’ve always been curious about human nature,” he said. “I wanted to explore it from the perspective of an alien or an animal.”
Born in the United States, Sumney spent six years of his adolescence in Accra, the capital of his parents’ homeland Ghana. The photographs of horses printed on his album’s pages were all taken in the city. “Horses are similar to humans. They are strong and beautiful, but sometimes eerie. It’s truer for artists as they are also priced at a certain value, considered a public property, and often mounted with someone,” he said when asked about why he likes horses.
The American singer-songwriter said that solitude that he has had to endure since young is the nutriment of art. He also got his super high pitches while practicing the songs of female singers such as India Arie and Joni Mitchell.
Sumney has recently released his single “Rank & File,” which describes excessive force used by white police officers against black people in its forthright lyrics and an intense tune and melody. “I included the crowd’s angry voices that I recorded at the scene of the protest in 2014. It’s a song that had to be released someday,” he said.
“Moses is not a human,” a comment left below the music video of “Rank & File,” indicates how the audience views the emerging star singer-songwriter.